Re: betulah/parthenos

David L. Moore (
Wed, 13 Nov 1996 15:18:56 -0500

At 07:12 AM 11/13/96 -0600, Juan Stam B wrote:

>Greetings! I've been enjoying the debates, especially on betulah
>\parthenos, about which I have the following question:
>Rev 14.4 refers to men (msc) as PARQENOS "virgin, who did not defile
>themselvs with women". This has got to be one of the strangest and
>hardest texts in the scriptures. (1) Does anyone know any other passage,
>in hebrew or Greek, where these terms are applied to males rather to to
>women? (2) Can anybody shed any light on the meaning of this phrase?
>(Some have suggested it relates to a requisite for sacrificial lambs, that
>they be offered before breeding them). I'll greatly appreciate any help
>on this!

Since Steven Carlson's recent post has addressed the first question,
I'll address an answer to the second one.

I'd never heard that bit about the lambs, but I'll mention the most
common way of understanding this passage among commentators who take an
exegetical aproach to Revelation. Juan and others on the list are probably
aware of the interpretation, but it bears mentioning as at least among the
most probable of the many ways this passage has been understood.

The basic idea is that, since Revelation contains a great deal of
figurative language, that this, too, may represent a figurative way of
designating a group of last-days Christians that are free from the
contaminations of the corrupt society that surrounds them. The thinking
usually is along the lines that chasteness is a common figure, both in the
Old, and the New Testament of faithfulness to God and purity in devotion to Him.

Among Comentators who have taken this line of interpretation, giving
room for individual emphases, are L. Morris, R. Summers, R. H. Mounce, and
G. E. Ladd. An interesting comment by Mounce on the history of the
interpretation of Rev. 14:4 relates that not a few have taken the reference
to virgins and non-contamination with women as a gloss "by some monkish
scribe" which somehow got into the text itself (Mounce, p.269). But lack of
any MS evidence to that effect casts any such proposed emendation as, at the
very least, conjectural.

David L. Moore Director
Miami, Florida, USA Department of Education Southeastern Spanish District of the Assemblies of God